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Hunger could be a bigger threat than Covid-19.

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Removing barriers to agricultural development could spur a jump in Africa’s agricultural output. Image credit: Wikimedia.commons

19 March 2021 – Strengthening food systems must be an integral part of efforts to recover from the Covid-19 pandemic and to build resilience in Africa, says African Development Bank Director General for Southern Africa, Leila Mokaddem.

“Hunger is a greater threat to many Africans than the Covid-19 crisis. Africa must now urgently strengthen its food systems as an integral part of efforts to recover from the Covid-19 pandemic and to build resilience,” says Mokaddem.

According to University of Pretoria, vice-chancellor Tawana Kupe, food systems, when they function properly, have the power to bring Africans together as families, communities and nations. But too many of the world’s food systems are fragile and vulnerable to collapse,” says Kupe.

Mokaddem says that there are four areas in which the African Development Bank is working in partnerships to drive the food sector’s transformation: “Sustainably intensifying the production of safe and nutritious food to meet demand; careful management of land, soils, and water; increasing the contribution of local food producers and suppliers and reduction of post-harvest losses; and harnessing digital technologies to develop and drive food systems transformation.

“The African Development Bank is championing the Technologies for African Agricultural Transformation (TAAT), a major continent-wide initiative designed to boost agricultural productivity across the continent by rapidly delivering proven technologies to millions of farmers,” she added.

Other initiatives that underscore the Bank’s leadership role in the sector are its financing of Special Agro-Industrial Processing Zones to concentrate agro-processing activities within areas of high agricultural potential, as well as the promotion of climate-smart agriculture.

Removing barriers to agricultural development could spur a jump in Africa’s agricultural output from an annual USD280-billion to USD1- trillion by 2030, Mokaddem says.

“The African Development Bank is committed, in partnership with key stakeholders, to supporting agricultural transformation and calls on governments, Multilateral Development Banks and other development partners to support a technology development and delivery mechanism required to achieve the transformation of African agriculture,” says Mokaddem.

According to the World Health Organisation’s Special Envoy for Covid-19, David Nabarro, the organisation is seeking to transform food systems so they can be more sustainable and equitable. “This transformation will contribute to all of the SDGs (Sustainable Development Goals), and absolutely key to dealing with the other major crises in our world at this time,” says Nabarro.

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